After his father dies, Dre and his mother move from Detroit to China for the chance of a new life. After a few brutal attacks by a gang of bullies, Dre seeks the help of Mr Han, the maintenance man who has a few hidden talents. When Mr Han enters Dre into a tournament, Dre must learn the true meaning of Kung Fu before he can learn the skills he needs to win.

The Karate Kid (2010) – Director: Harald Zwart

help parents decide if this movie is appropriate for kids

Rating: PG

Running Length: 140 mins

Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P Henson

Genre: Martial Arts, Drama, Action



Harald Zwart has created a surprisingly good movie from what could have otherwise been a wise-cracking rehash of the 80’s classic of the same name with Daniel-san and Mr Miyagi. Unfortunately the ancient Japanese martial art of Karate is somewhat misrepresented in a movie set in China and about a young boy who learns Kung Fu! However, it was widely known as ‘The Kung Fu Kid’ in most countries so we won’t hold the US/UK title against it.

Jackie Chan’s portrayal of his character ‘Mr Han’ is refreshingly subdued and he displays his acting clout in a role which demands much more than the comedy persona that he normally portrays to western audiences. Jaden Smith is a likeable lead as ‘Dre’ and although Taraji P Henson acts the part of a stressed mother well, her character’s acceptance of the friendship between Dre and Mr Han is a bit too easy and a short scene of her getting to know Mr Han a little better would have made the scenario slightly more realistic. Having said that, ‘The Karate Kid’ (or ‘The Kung Fu Kid’, depending on which country you are reading this from) is a very good movie which, while keeping some of the same plotlines, does not rely on the success of the 1984 original.


We believe that the PG rating of ‘The Karate Kid’ is appropriate for this movie; however there is some content which we feel adults may wish to be aware of, particularly because this is a drama which has some themes which are aimed towards an older audience.

The movie starts with a climbing shot of a height chart. The usual milestones are included, such as ‘start kindergarten’ and ‘lost first tooth’ but the last two entries are ‘daddy died’ and ‘9th Birthday’. When the music at this point is so light and jolly, the impact of Dre’s father dying when he was only 8 years old is slightly shocking and younger children may find this a bit upsetting.

Dre soon becomes the target of bullies when he and his mother move to China. The children (who are bigger than him) use their Kung Fu skills to brutally beat him and although he is seen to get up each time (albeit painfully), it isn’t fun to watch. These bullies are also at Dre’s school and although he tries to avoid them, they often attack and threaten him.

After a few lessons with Mr Han, Dre visits him on his ‘day off’ and finds his teacher drunk and destroying the car which he has previously been seen renovating. This leads to a particularly touching (and well acted) scene where we find out more about Mr Han’s past.



‘The Karate Kid’ is very much a family film which manages to be mature while bringing plenty of fun and entertainment into the mix. Jackie Chan’s subtle approach steals the show and Jaden Smith proves to be a worthy student, the dynamic between the pair being very reminiscent of the one between the two leads of the original movie. We would recommend this movie for children aged 8 and over simply due to the fact that this is a drama before being a martial arts movie and therefore younger viewers may get a little bored.

  • Violence:  2/5 (the bullies are threatening and their teacher has a poor (and quite psychotic) attitude of winning at all costs)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (Dre struggles to settle in China while his single-parent mother is busy and often expects him to get by on his own. Mr Han has a tragic past and the scene where this is revealed is very moving)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (there are moments of tension when Dre is attacked by the bullies and also during the tournament)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (there is a very innocent attraction between Dre and fellow student, Mei Ying. They visit a games arcade and Mei Ying dances to a Lady Gaga track. Although the dancing is quite sexy, it is clearly for fun and does not seem to have any other connotations to it.
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (Dre uses some mild curse words but is told off by Mr Han and there is very little after this point)
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (The bullies threaten Dre quite a few times)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of rising to a challenge, bettering yourself, triumphing over adversity, accepting who you are, finding your strengths and overcoming your weaknesses.

Words by Laura Record

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